Wither by Lauren DeStefanoWither by Lauren DeStefano
Series: The Chemical Garden #1
Published by Simon & Schuster BFYR
Published on: March 22, 2011
Genres: Fiction, Young Adult, Dystopian
Pages: 358
Format: Hardcover
Source: Personal Copy
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Rating:

About the Book

By age sixteen, Rhine Ellery has four years left to live. She can thank modern science for this genetic time bomb. A botched effort to create a perfect race has left all males with a lifespan of 25 years, and females with a lifespan of 20 years. Geneticists are seeking a miracle antidote to restore the human race, desperate orphans crowd the population, crime and poverty have skyrocketed, and young girls are being kidnapped and sold as polygamous brides to bear more children.

When Rhine is kidnapped and sold as a bride, she vows to do all she can to escape. Her husband, Linden, is hopelessly in love with her, and Rhine can't bring herself to hate him as much as she'd like to. He opens her to a magical world of wealth and illusion she never thought existed, and it almost makes it possible to ignore the clock ticking away her short life. But Rhine quickly learns that not everything in her new husband's strange world is what it seems. Her father-in-law, an eccentric doctor bent on finding the antidote, is hoarding corpses in the basement. Her fellow sister wives are to be trusted one day and feared the next, and Rhine is desperate to communicate to her twin brother that she is safe and alive. Will Rhine be able to escape--before her time runs out?

Together with one of Linden's servants, Gabriel, Rhine attempts to escape just before her seventeenth birthday. But in a world that continues to spiral into anarchy, is there any hope for freedom?


REVIEW

Why, oh why did I take so long to read Wither by Lauren DeStefano?

I picked this book up sometime back in June.  While initially intrigued enough by the premise to buy the book, it languished on my shelf unread until October.  Of course once I picked it up, I couldn’t put it down.  The book was freaking fabulous.

You know the book is good when it takes you from one end of the spectrum to the other emotionally.  There were times I was totally creeped out (Sister Wives?), enraged (a 20 something sleeping with a 13 year old), happy (every time Rhine pulled the wool over Linden’s eyes), and so on.  I found myself shaking the book sometimes imagining that I was shaking some sense into a few of the characters.

I think this really had to be my first experience with the Dystopian genre since I started blogging.  Wither was such a good introduction to the genre that everything else that I have read since hasn’t quite measured up.  I think it dealt with some really controversial topics and handled them quite well in the context of the story.  It was easy to get lost in the book and to make Rhine’s story my own.  What I did like was that Rhine wasn’t all rage against  the machine.  She was wronged, she knows it, she has a plan and she knows she needs to pick her battles.  That is someone who knows how to strategize and play the game that is life.

I will say that no character annoyed me as much as Linden did.  There were so many times I just wanted to grab him and help him pull his head out of his behind.  To me, he was the worst kind of character.  Not because he was cruel or anything, but rather because he just was.  He was just willing to bury his head in the sand and except whatever fate or his father told him.  That kind of blind faith, when your life is on the line is just inexcusable and unexplainable.  Here’s hoping that he experiences some personal growth in book two.

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Clockwork Prince by Cassandra ClareClockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare
Series: The Infernal Devices #2
Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books
Published on: December 6, 2011
Genres: Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 506
Format: ARC
Source: Personal Copy
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Rating:
Also in this series: Clockwork Angel
Also by this author: Clockwork Angel

About the Book

In the magical underworld of Victorian London, Tessa Gray has at last found safety with the Shadowhunters. But that safety proves fleeting when rogue forces in the Clave plot to see her protector, Charlotte, replaced as head of the Institute. If Charlotte loses her position, Tessa will be out on the street—and easy prey for the mysterious Magister, who wants to use Tessa’s powers for his own dark ends.

With the help of the handsome, self-destructive Will and the fiercely devoted Jem, Tessa discovers that the Magister’s war on the Shadowhunters is deeply personal. He blames them for a long-ago tragedy that shattered his life. To unravel the secrets of the past, the trio journeys from mist-shrouded Yorkshire to a manor house that holds untold horrors, from the slums of London to an enchanted ballroom where Tessa discovers that the truth of her parentage is more sinister than she had imagined. When they encounter a clockwork demon bearing a warning for Will, they realize that the Magister himself knows their every move—and that one of their own has betrayed them.

Tessa finds her heart drawn more and more to Jem, but her longing for Will, despite his dark moods, continues to unsettle her. But something is changing in Will—the wall he has built around himself is crumbling. Could finding the Magister free Will from his secrets and give Tessa the answers about who she is and what she was born to do?

As their dangerous search for the Magister and the truth leads the friends into peril, Tessa learns that when love and lies are mixed, they can corrupt even the purest heart.


REVIEW

I received an ARC of this book from the lovely Jen from Rayment’s Readings, Rants & Ramblings and I am so glad that I did.  Getting the ARC actually pushed me to read book one in the Infernal Devices Series, Clockwork Angel.  After reading book one and enjoying it, I immediately picked up the ARC of Clockwork Prince and dived right in.  Seriously, I have no idea how I am supposed to wait for book three now.

All of the things that I loved in Clockwork Angel were brought right back and doubled in Clockwork Prince.  The setting, the characters, the history and story were just developed so beautifully and at such a great pace.  The story just unfolds effortlessly and hooks you right from the very first page.  Clockwork Prince is definitely one of my favourite books of 2011.

Remember how in my review of Clockwork Angel I said that I didn’t like Will?  Well let me revise that statement to say that I didn’t like Will in that book, but loved him in Clockwork Prince.  I found that learning there there was a motivation and reason behind his behaviour made him much more likable.  In fact, by the end of the book you actually begin to see him for what he really is; a seventeen year old boy trying to make the best of a bad situation to the best of his ability.

Tessa still annoyed me, but it was nice to see her experience some personal growth.  Jess still made me want to light myself on fire every time she appeared.  There really is no other character, that comes to mind, that has ever made me giddily anticipate the moment they finally get what is coming to them quite like Jess does.  Jem finally showed some grit and determination.  There was some steel i his spine and fire in his eyes and it really made me like him that much more.  And of course Magus Bane is still made of awesome and win.

Clockwork Prince is a fabulous follow up in the Infernal Devices Series.  If Cassandra Clare keeps writing like this she will continue to cement her place in the hearts and imaginations of readers everywhere.

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Clockwork Angel by Cassandra ClareClockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
Series: The Infernal Devices #1
Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books
Published on: August 31, 2010
Genres: Fiction, Young Adult, Paranormal Fantasy
Pages: 479
Format: Hardcover
Source: Personal Copy
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Rating:
Also in this series: Clockwork Prince
Also by this author: Clockwork Prince

About the Book

In a time when Shadowhunters are barely winning the fight against the forces of darkness, one battle will change the course of history forever. Welcome to the Infernal Devices trilogy, a stunning and dangerous prequel to the New York Times bestselling Mortal Instruments series.

The year is 1878. Tessa Gray descends into London’s dark supernatural underworld in search of her missing brother. She soon discovers that her only allies are the demon-slaying Shadowhunters—including Will and Jem, the mysterious boys she is attracted to. Soon they find themselves up against the Pandemonium Club, a secret organization of vampires, demons, warlocks, and humans. Equipped with a magical army of unstoppable clockwork creatures, the Club is out to rule the British Empire, and only Tessa and her allies can stop them...


REVIEW

I think I should give you fair warning that at the time I decided to read Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare I had already marked some of Cassandra Clare’s other work, namely the Mortal Instruments Series, as DNF. As a result I was very hesitant to even begin any of the books in the Infernal Devices series. In the end, I was convinced to give it a try by some of my fellow Ontario Blog Squad members and I am very glad that they did.

For me the first half of the book was a whole lot of nothing. Well, maybe not nothing, but not a lot happened. It was all talk and getting to know the characters, but really very little action. While I did like having the opportunity to really learn about the characters, it was hard holding my attention when I just wanted something to happen. I do have to say that when the action started, it pretty much didn’t stop. It wasn’t over the top gory incidents either. I didn’t get the feeling that the events taking place weren’t realistic for the story, but rather they seamlessly fit right in.

While I did enjoy the book, I can’t say that I was really fond of a lot of the characters. Tessa annoyed me for some reason. Maybe it was her dependence on others, or her inability to see things clearly that drove me nuts. Was she a product of her environment and times? Yes! Does that mean I should make allowances for her character? Probably. Did she still annoy me anyway? Absolutely! And that was the best part. As annoying as she was, she was authentic to the times, her upbringing and her character. I really did not like Will, but he too was authentic. What I don’t understand is this need for the main male character in every YA book to be a borderline douche. Jem on the other hand came across as a very likeable, albeit, tragic character. Jess made me want to light myself on fire every time she appeared in the story.

There was something about the setting for this series that just worked for me. The setting of Victorian London was spot on and had me believing in the world of Shadowhunters, Demons and the like. Something about London during that time period comes across as a lot more believable than the backdrop of New York City that we find in The Mortal Instruments. What we know of London during that time due to historical record lends a great bit of credibility to this kind of world within a world that Cassandra Clare has created. London, as described in Clockwork Angel, is a cross between being seedy and posh and it is that dichotomy that makes the story work so well.

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The Lost Hero by Rick RiordanThe Lost Hero by Rick Riordan
Series: The Heroes of Olympus #1
Published by Disney-Hyperion
Published on: October 12, 2010
Genres: Fiction, Middle Grade
Pages: 557
Format: Hardcover
Source: Personal Copy
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Rating:
Also by this author: The Throne of Fire

About the Book

Jason has a problem.
He doesn’t remember anything before waking up in a bus full of kids on a field trip. Apparently he has a girlfriend named Piper, and a best friend named Leo. They’re all students at a boarding school for “bad kids.” What did Jason do to end up here? And where is here, exactly?

Piper has a secret.
Her father has been missing for three days, ever since she had that terrifying nightmare about his being in trouble. Piper doesn’t understand her dream, or why her boyfriend suddenly doesn’t recognize her. When a freak storm hits during the school trip, unleashing strange creatures and whisking her, Jason, and Leo away to someplace called Camp Half-Blood, she has a feeling she’s going to find out.

Leo has a way with tools.
When he sees his cabin at Camp Half-Blood, filled with power tools and machine parts, he feels right at home. But there’s weird stuff, too—like the curse everyone keeps talking about, and some camper who;s gone missing. Weirdest of all, his bunkmates insist that each of them—including Leo—is related to a god. Does this have anything to do with Jason's amnesia, or the fact that Leo keeps seeing ghosts?


REVIEW

So at the time I read The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan, I hadn’t yet read the Percy Jackson series by the same author.  I own all five books in that series, but I stopped reading them after the first one.  I can’t really say why.  I picked up this book on the sole strength of how much I love the books in the Kane Chronicles by Rick Riordan.

Can I just say that I thoroughly enjoyed this book?  I can’t really say that this book is better than the original Percy Jackson series as I haven’t read them yet, but in my opinion, this book can hold it’s own.

I could not stop giggling when I read this book.  The humor in this book, just as it was in the Kane Chronicles, just didn’t stop.  I am not really sure what it is about the Satyr’s that makes them so funny, but it just works.  Give that satyr a bit of a complex and a megaphone and the hilarity just doesn’t stop.

One thing I did appreciate about this book was not only the introduction of new characters, but the fact that each chapter or two was told from a different viewpoint.  I find that with these stories, getting the different view points works very well as each character has their own part to play in the story.  The best part of this book and in fact this series, is that not only does it get kids excited to read, but it teaches them quite a lot about mythology and in terms that they can understand.

 

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The Pact by Jodi PicoultThe Pact by Jodi Picoult
Published by Avon
Published on: August 29, 2006
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary Women
Pages: 512
Format: Paperback
Source: Personal Copy
Rating:

About the Book

The Golds and the Hartes, neighbors for 18 years, have always been inseparable. So have their children—and it’s no surprise that in high school Chris and Emily’s friendship blossoms into something more. But the bonds of family, friendship, and passion—which had seemed so indestructible— suddenly threaten to unravel in the wake of unexpected tragedy.

When midnight calls from the hospital come in, no one is ready for the truth. Emily is dead at seventeen from a gunshot wound to the head. There’s a single unspent bullet in the gun that Chris pilfered from his father’s cabinet—a bullet that Chris tells police he intended for himself. But a local detective has doubts about the suicide pact that Chris describes.

This extraordinary, heart-rending novel paints an indelible portrait of families in anguish . . . and creates an astonishingly suspenseful courtroom drama, as Chris finds himself on trial for murder.

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